BIO Health Caucus 2019 
Speakers & Moderators


 Rich Bendis, Founder, President and CEO, BioHealth Innovation, Inc.

Rich Bendis is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, angel investor, investment banker, innovation and technology-based economic development leader, international speaker and consultant in the technology and healthcare industries. He also serves as the founding President and CEO of Innovation America, a national public-private partnership focused on accelerating the growth of innovation economy in America; also the founding Chairman of The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation; founder and CEO of Innovation Philadelphia; and asked to serve as the Co-Chairman of the AURP BioHealth Caucus.

As a recognized expert in the field of the innovation economy, Rich has served on numerous distinguished boards and task forces including the White House U.S. Innovation Partnership Advisory Task Force, the Small Business Innovation Research Committee, the National Association of State Venture Funds Board; State Science and Technology Institute and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Institute as a National/Regional Judge and Entrepreneur of the Year winner. 

Rich has provided global consulting services to over 16 countries and 22 states, several cities and regions, along with international organizations including the United Nations, NATO, UK Trade and Industry, European Commission, French Embassy, the German Marshall Fund, The Canadian Consulate, METI, AKEA, the International Science Parks and Innovation Expert Group and other global entities. Rich serves on Governor Hogan's Life Science Advisory Board. He was voted one of the Top 5 Speakers on innovation and creativity, voted 4th best Innovation Blogger, a 2017 most influential Marylander award and a 2017 Maryland innovator of the year award, in addition to hosting the BioTalk podcast series.

Christian Braemer, Founder and CEO, Benefunder

Founded in 2013, serial entrepreneur Christian Braemer, is the founder and CEO of Benefunder, an online marketplace bringing together philanthropists and researchers; serving as a marketplace, attracting new money, lowering costs, and increasing transparency. Benefunder works with wealth management firms, to connect donors with leading researchers across the nation to fill the innovation gap. Through its Charitable Innovation Fund, Benefunder combines the disciplines of wealth management with philanthropic giving for the benefit of innovation across all fields of study.

Last year, individuals accounted for roughly $240 billion in charitable giving and less than 3% was allocated to research. Benefunder believes this represents the single largest opportunity to significantly increase research funding in the United States.

Benefunder has already aligned with more than 200 researchers from top universities, such as
UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco , Stanford, UNC, MIT, Harvard, UT Austin, USC, University of Florida, CMU, Cornell, Purdue, and CU Boulder.

Prior to Benefunder, Christian founded Joe Media, a national free wifi network that later merged with another founded organization, OpenEye Global. OpenEye Global hosted a team of experienced visual designers, media strategists and technologists that developed award winning solutions for some of the world’s leading brands.

Christian’s earlier experience included additional founded organizations, a former financial advisor with both Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, and sergeant of the Danish Army.

Olivia Byrne, JD, Partner, K&L Gates LLP

Olivia Byrne is a partner in the K&L Gates Washington D.C. office and a member of the firm’s real estate investment, development, and finance group. 

Olivia spearheads the firm's U.S. economic incentives practice along with the real estate and public finance practices in the Washington, D.C. office. She has successfully obtained economic incentives for clients on a national basis and has extensive experience drafting legislation for economic incentives. Her practice involves site location for many different industries, namely technology, broadcasting, wood-based products and biofuels, industrial manufacturing, food processing, auto parts and components, as well as financial services, professional sports arenas and complexes, entertainment facilities, and hotels. She and her team represent inbound companies from abroad including Asia, Europe and Canada, as well as U.S. companies relocating or deciding to remain in place and expand.  

Additionally, Olivia is active across the newly established Opportunity Zones (OZ) community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, building upon extensive experience working with clients to develop investments in low-income urban and rural neighborhoods. She is a frequent speaker on a national basis at OZ conferences and programs. She has worked with clients to assist with structuring OZ transactions and related real estate issues. In 2019, Olivia was named a Top 25 Opportunity Zone Attorney by Opportunity Zone Magazine.

She was selected by Super Lawyers as a top Washington, D.C. Lawyer in Government Finance in 2016, and 2017, and 2018. She was also named by the Washington Business Journal as a "2009 Top Washington Lawyer" Finalist in the Real Estate Transactions category. Her financing structure for the National Association of Realtors' US$40 million real estate transaction was also selected as the "Best Financing Deal of the Year" by the Washington Business Journal. 

Demian Costa, Partner, Weller Development Company 

Demian Costa is a Partner at Weller Development Company, the lead developer for the Port Covington project in Baltimore City. As a Partner with Weller Development, Demian focuses on raising capital, leasing, and new business creation. Additionally, Demian serves as the Managing Director of Sagamore Ventures, the private investment subsidiary of Plank Industries.

Demian began his career int he military. He is a veteran having served 12 years as a US Navy SEAL. Following his military career, Demian co-founded FX Studios, focused on building virtual and on-premise employee wellness programs globally. Additionally, Demian co-founded Sagamore Ventures, focusing on double bottom-line investments that drive positive economic impact in urban areas. He is currently focused on innovation and economic growth in Baltimore City and beyond. Demian holds an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Brian Darmody, JD, CEO, Association of University Research Parks (AURP)

Brian Darmody was announced as AURP CEO in February 2019 and in this new role Brian will lead AURP into new initiatives including expanding membership, international partnerships and funding in order to build out additional member benefits.  Over the course of the year, Brian will be winding down his activities at UMD where he currently serves as Associate Vice President (AVP) of Corporate Engagement at the University of Maryland (UMD).

At UMD, Brian is responsible for developing the overall university strategy for corporate relationships, as well as the development of projects and policies to support these initiatives centrally and through the colleges and schools on campus of the University of Maryland.

Previously, he was the University’s AVP for Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Division of University Relations, AVP for Research and Economic Development, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Development, Director of State and Federal Relations in the President’s Office and has served in the university’s legal counsel office.

He serves on national and state boards, including: Fraunhofer USA, the Maryland Economic Development Association, and the Maryland Tech Council. 

He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore and he received his bachelor degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Chad Gobel, CEO & Founder, Gobel Group & Futurus Group

Chad is a twenty-year veteran of institutional advancement programs, having played leading roles in billion-dollar medical center campaigns at the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

In 2011, Chad founded Gobel Group with one employee and one client. Today, Gobel Group has grown to 30 employees and actively works with more than 315 clients around the world. Gobel Group has become the leading philanthropy consulting firm working exclusively in healthcare and the experts in building a grateful patient and family philanthropy program with engaged clinicians.

In 2019, Chad launched Futurus Group, a technology company headquartered in Irvine, CA, to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to help healthcare organizations increase philanthropic support. Futurus’ first product, G2G, or short for “Gratitude to Give,” has proven to be more than four times as effective as traditional predict models on giving.

Chad received his MBA from Ohio State University and his undergraduate degree from Towson University. He has served in leadership roles as Associate Chairman of Development at the Cleveland Clinic, Chief Development Officer at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Assistant Dean for External Affairs at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry, and Executive Director of Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs.

He’s a frequent speaker at national conferences, served on the faculty of the AHP Madison Institute for ten years, and has published the widely-circulated book, “How to Become a Top Producer in Healthcare Philanthropy.”

With his wife and three children, Chad is an active advocate and donor for children and animal causes in his community. He serves as the Chair of the Development Committee, a member of the Executive Committee, and a Board Member for the Brandywine Valley SPCA and is an active donor and volunteer for the YMCA.

Tami Howie, JD, Partner, DLA Piper

Tami Howie focuses her practice in the area of corporate law. She advises technology, life science and medical device companies in emerging growth and venture capital, private equity, securities offerings, venture capital, joint venture transactions and M&A matters.

Prior to returning to DLA Piper, she was CEO of the Maryland Technology Council, the state's largest technology trade association supporting biotechnology and innovation in the state of Maryland. In this capacity, she was the lead voice in Annapolis helping to promote legislation to make Maryland the most innovative state in the country. She has worked to increase research and development, tax credits, investor tax credits and worked to prevent legislation that would make it harder to do business in Maryland. Over the past 20 years ,Tami has helped technology companies grow in the Mid-Atlantic region and nationwide from start up to public companies and beyond.

Tami has been involved with the successful exits of over 150 companies and has represented technology companies, investors, SBICs and underwriters such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

She has served on several organizational boards including most recently the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland and as counsel in her early career for the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association. In addition, she has served the tech community by participating as a speaker, committee chair or legal advisor for both the DC Tech Council and Tech Counsel of Maryland. Tami has been named one of America's Top Lawyers and has received the Young Gun Award from the Washington Business Journal.

Katherine “Kate” Merton, Head of JLABS @ NYC, Boston & JPOD @ Philadelphia

As Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS in New York, Kate is responsible for external engagement, innovation sourcing, company onboarding, portfolio management, operational excellence, educational programming and P&L. She catalyzes and supports the translation of science and technology into valuable solutions for patients and consumers across the pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and healthtech sectors.

Kate joins JLABS with 15 years of experience working across the Healthcare industry, starting in R&D before moving onto roles in Marketing, Business Development, External Alliances, Medical Affairs, Health Outcomes and most recently Disruptive Innovation. During her career Kate has been part of teams that have discovered new drugs, worked to develop and gain approval for blockbuster diabetes products and is passionate about being part of the future of healthcare where science intersects with the rapid advancements in health care technology.

Kate holds an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology & Toxicology from King’s College London, and PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology from University of California, Irvine Medical School. She received her MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Alex Philippidis, Senior News Editor,  GEN / Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Alex specializes in biopharma business news and industry issues for GEN. He joined GEN in 2011 after four years at GenomeWeb, where he covered research institutes, and spent three years following biotech economic development as editor of the weekly newsletter BioRegion News. Alex reports a variety of news stories for GEN and Clinical OMICs and compiles the popular A-Lists series.

Alex previously worked for more than 20 years for various newspapers covering business, science, the Navy, and general-interest news. He has been interviewed and quoted by news outlets including the New York Times and the BBC. He enjoys solving crossword puzzles, watching classic TV game shows, and traveling with his family.

Mark Romney, Chief Strategy Officer, Aggie Square – University of California, Davis

Mark Romney joined the University of California, Davis in 1991 and currently serves as the Director of Research Development & Industry Alliances for UC Davis Health (comprised of the Medical Center, School of Medicine and School of Nursing and Practice Management Board). Mark has over 27 years of leadership experience in higher education master planning, with an emphasis in research and industry planning and development initiatives.

Mark is a highly sought after thought leader in the field of public, private and university partnerships. He is invited to share his expertise around the globe presenting at conferences. Mark also served as host and closing speaker at the U.S. Department of Commerce SelectUSA Advance Tour Event (2017) hosting scientific collaboration discussions and providing the keynote presentation of the proposed UC Davis Aggie Square to the U.S. Embassy, Beijing Commercial Services officers and a delegation of senior representatives from over 25 Chinese life sciences, real estate development and real estate investment companies. The SelectUSA Investment Summit is the highest-profile event dedicated to promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the United States, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commercial Services Division.

Mark has successfully attracted significant resources to key initiatives of UC Davis. Most recently, Mark has coauthored multiple State and Federal construction grants (NIH-C06 and CIRM) providing the University with over $30,000,000 in extramural funding for the renovation of existing buildings and development of new state of the art research facilities.

Mark’s passion and proficiency in facilitating collaborations between industry and academia resulted in the adsorption of all eligible industry partner space on the Sacramento Campus (over 50,000 square feet). His efforts motivated UC Davis Health Leadership to launch the new research park planning and development effort, known as Aggie Square, which has already garnered national attention for the University and Sacramento. What began as a UC Davis Health initiative was transformed into a UC Davis wide initiative through the vision of the then new UC Davis Chancellor, Gary May, who envisioned creating a similar environment to Georgia Tech’s Technology Square in Atlanta of which he was involved with while Dean of the Engineering School. Chancellor May encouraged Mark to engage with leadership throughout the University in the effort to identify colleges and schools on the Davis Campus that would benefit from joining Aggie Square. Through Mark’s efforts, Aggie Square has grown to over 2,500,000 square feet, has garnered endorsement and collocation interests by the other schools and colleges on the Davis Campus, many midsize and Fortune 500 companies (both domestic and international), as well as endorsement and $2,800,000 in financial support from the Mayor and City Council of Sacramento, the State of California Legislature, and the US Congressional Representatives.

Stephen Susalka, PhD, CLP, RTTP, CEO, AUTM

Steve Susalka works to ensure that AUTM serves the needs and interests of its members through strategic planning, outreach and advocacy, while empowering Association members and promoting the profession.

A regular speaker on technology transfer issues, Steve has presented on Capitol Hill and internationally on topics ranging from the evolution of the technology transfer profession to start-up formation.

Before joining AUTM, Steve served as Associate Director for Commercialization at Wake Forest Innovations where he was responsible for commercializing high-impact inventions, and drafting, negotiating and executing a wide variety of licensing and start-up transactions.

Steve is a registered U.S. Patent Agent and a past board member of multiple Wake Forest-affiliated start-ups. Steve has also led the Winston-Salem Technology Council to retain and grow local technology businesses to strengthen the economy.

Stephen Zarrilli, President and CEO, The University City Science Center

Founded in 1963, the Science Center is the oldest and largest urban research park in the United States, serving as a dynamic hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and technology/ life science development in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Science Center provides lab and office space for start-up, growing and established companies. It also offers business incubation, support services and programming for entrepreneurs and start-up companies.

Prior to Steve Zarrilli’s position at the Science Center, he served from 2012 to 2018 as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. (NYSE: SFE), a growth equity capital provider to technology and healthcare companies. During his tenure Safeguard deployed more than $600 million in new opportunities and realized more than $1 billion of proceeds from the strategic sale of business interests.

Steve also serves as a Director, Chair of the Audit Committee and Member of the Risk and Finance Committee of Virtus Investment Partners, Inc., (NASDAQ: VRTS), an investment management company with approximately $100 billion of assets under management; and as a Director of Globus Medical (NYSE: GMED), a leading musculoskeletal solutions company.

Steve contributes time and expertise to his local business community by serving on a variety of other non-profit boards engaged in the innovation sector including Ben Franklin Technology Partners; and he is the current Chair of the Board of Trustees of La Salle University.